I had intended to phone bank at the coordinated campaign HQ in McLean yesterday evening, but an earlier meeting went over-time and I ended up showing up at HQ, embarrassed and apologetic, with only a half hour of calling time remaining. I was of no use to the campaign, but was interested to hear that other volunteers had been delayed in commuting to the office after work because they were stuck in traffic jams caused by security for George W. Bush, who attended "very intimate dinner" for 100 in McLean last night as a fundraiser for Jerry Kilgore.
Bob over at Commonwealth Commonsense raised a pertinent question about what kind of "intimacy" can occur with 100 people at a time (and whether Dick Black and Bob Marshall might disapprove). I was even more amused by details in this morning's Post coverage of last night's event (emphasis mine):
The minimum [contribution] at the McLean dinner, at the home of developer and home builder Dwight Schar, was a $15,000 donation to Jerry W. Kilgore, gubernatorial candidate in Virginia's Nov. 8 election.
"They called and asked if we wanted 'dinner with the president,' " said Ray Breeden, chairman of the Breeden Co., a development firm based in Virginia Beach. "And who's going to turn that down?" Breeden was planning on flying his jet up for the event. [...]
The invitation to Dwight and Martha Schar's luxurious home by the Potomac River in McLean beckoned with the promise of proximity to power: a "very intimate dinner," it proposed, with "our very special guest President George W. Bush."
What that meant in practice was a meal at a 10,000-square-foot house attended by Bush and about 100 other guests, campaign aides said, not including a phalanx of police and well-dressed security men. The dinner guests were guided down a windy, wooded road on the Schars' 10-acre estate, which bears the name "Wind Falls."
Okay, so they're super-rich. (My condo could fit inside that house 18 times over - think they have enough closet space?) No news that big Republican donors are rich, of course. But what struck me as laughable was the comment that Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh made about the alleged significance of the event:
Tim Murtaugh, Kilgore's spokesman, said yesterday's financial rewards show that the Kilgore campaign holds appeal for everyone from Main Street America to "the leader of the free world."
In contrast, a thousand people, mostly young voters, attended Wednesday night's Tim Kaine fundraiser in Arlington with Barack Obama, for which the suggested minimum contribution was 35 bucks. Of course, there's no question the Kaine campaign would rather have netted $2 million, but opening up an affordable, small-dollar fundraiser to a thousand young voters does provide other tangible (though less quantifiable) benefits to a campaign.
The Bush event was supposedly 10 times more "intimate", but was more than 400 times more expensive per attendee. Evidence of wide appeal? I think not. Those in the market to buy some political "intimacy" might also note that we got the better bargain overall.
But who knows. Maybe they had really good appetizers. One would hope so.